You’re most likely familiar with the “standard” type of civil engineer, somebody who designs, plans, and builds infrastructure.
They may also be involved with new projects for residential, industrial, or commercial buildings. However, there are many other types of civil engineers, including:
- Construction and Management Engineers
- Structural Engineers
- Transportation Engineers
- Geotechnical Engineers
The first step towards becoming a civil engineer is to get a bachelor’s degree, as this is the minimum level of education that is accepted by employers. Fortunately, civil engineering is a popular program that is offered by hundreds of institutions across the country.
However, these programs are also highly competitive and have fairly strict entry requirements. Thus, choosing the right college and the right program is the first of many important steps to take on your journey towards becoming a qualified civil engineer.
What College Has the Best Civil Engineering Program?
Before choosing any program or university, you should always do your due diligence. This means checking the university’s website, looking at how the institution ranks for certain subjects, and investigating what kind of facilities to which you’ll have access.
For example, some universities might partner with major employers, giving you the chance to get hands-on experience early. Others may offer unique study-abroad programs where some institutions do not. Researching your prospective colleges allows you to make the right choice while avoiding missed opportunities; after all, you’re paying a lot to get your college degree!
So, we’ve looked at the rankings from U.S. News & World Report to find the best ten colleges for a civil engineering bachelor’s degree. According to U.S. News, which is one of the most well-regarded ranking agencies in the nation, these colleges have the best civil engineering programs in the United States:
- University of California — Berkeley
- University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Stanford University
- University of Texas — Austin (Cockrell)
- Purdue University — West Lafayette
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- University of Michigan — Ann Arbor
- Virginia Tech
- Carnegie Mellon University
What Should I Major in for Civil Engineering?
Aspiring civil engineers most often pursue a bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering. Civil engineering degree programs will provide you with the necessary education required to both find roles within the industry and to obtain the necessary licensure.
These degrees commonly feature courses focused on engineering, physics, math, statistics, and architectural planning and design, in addition to offering training in how to use the most common CAD (Computer Assisted Design) software programs employed by civil engineers.
Once you’ve settled on a college degree program, you should consider the specialization or concentration tracks open to you. Many engineering students will choose to follow a particular area of specialization, which could include structural engineering, land development, or construction engineering. You may also have the opportunity to pursue an internship, which would offer valuable hands-on experience in your preferred subfield and could improve your chances of securing a role after graduation.
What Classes Should I Take in College to Become a Civil Engineer?
Most civil engineers working in the construction industry have a bachelor’s degree, but some recruiters have begun looking for candidates who have also completed a master’s degree as well. With master’s degree programs, you’ll typically specialize to a greater extent in one particular subfield of civil engineering. In a bachelor’s degree program, however, you should choose electives that will help build your foundational knowledge in all areas relating to the profession.
The first step is choosing your degree program. There are many civil engineering degree programs available, but some civil engineers have come from closely related fields, such as environmental science. Whatever your choice of program, you’ll need to have a strong record of academic achievement in the areas of calculus, physics, chemistry algebra, and other related courses.
In terms of electives, or when choosing a program and curriculum in general, bear in mind that there will likely be a broad selection of courses to choose from, with each relating to one or more different subfields of engineering. Courses might include topics such as Introduction to Civil Engineering, Structural Analysis, Geotechnical Engineering, and Transportation Engineering.